Posts Tagged ‘food


In Search of Lost Time 3-31-2022

So far I am enjoying the In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower (the second volume of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time) more than Swann’s Way (the first volume). In reflection, the first volume seems more like exposition. There are two main stories. The one about Swann and Odette had conflicts and concerns, and in the other not much happens. But it seems like it was necessary to write Swann’s Way for the second volume, which is much more interesting with more conflicts between characters and the narrator falling in love with Gilberte, the young girl of his fantasy. Thinking of which, there is what should have been considered a scandalous scene in literary history, but I don’t think it was perceived that way. When the narrator and Gilberte are playfully wrestling and flirting, the narrator got over excited and “shed my pleasure, before I even had time to be aware of the nature of it” (67). He prematurely ejaculated (as many young boys do), and Gilberte realized it. When Leopold Bloom, from Ulysses, ejaculated in his pants, it led to a court case about pornography in Ulysses, but as far as I’m aware, Proust suffered no such response. Nonetheless, it was a sweet scene as both he and Gilberte tried to pretend neither noticed. Gilberte then asked him if wanted to wrestle again, and he “agreed to wrestle with her again, in case she might think my only purpose, now achieved, had been the pleasure that left me feeling no desire other than to sit quietly beside her” (67).

I’ve gone off track, and there is so much to write about, such as the narrator’s ideas on space, time, and writing, as well as writing and love. Maybe I’ll do that in another post, but I must share the following.

Norpois is a respected diplomat and the narrator looks up to Norpois because he is smart and well read. The narrator gave Norpois something he wrote, and the great diplomat responded to the narrator:

But in the piece you showed me, one can detect Bergotte’s [a factious writer (based on Anatole France) the narrator admires] pernicious influence. Now, clearly, it come as no surprise to you to learn that it contained none of his better qualities, he being a past master in the art of a certain phase-making—though one should add, mind you, that it’s a shallow art—and you being a boy who cannot be expected to have grasped even the rudiments of that. Still, young as you are, it’s exactly the same defect, the aberration of stringing together a few fine-sounding words, and not finding any substance to put into them until afterward. (46-7)

Narpois then goes on to put down the narrator’s favorite writer even more. As a result, the narrator “was devastated by what M. de Norpois had said about the piece I had given him to read. . . . I became once more acutely aware of my own intellectual poverty and of the fact that I had no gift for writing.” (47). What Narpois did was crush the writing spirit and hopes in the young narrator. It’s very mean. I don’t think he was trying to be mean. Instead, I think he was showing off about how smart he is. But he’s one of those people who make themselves look smart by putting others down. In addition, I think he puts down Bergotte’s writing because he doesn’t like Bergotte the person, which, I think, is how literary criticism was often performed . . . and maybe it still is. 😁 However, he’s a diplomat, so you think he’d be better equipped to respond to a child. So if you ever want to ensure your kid never writes again, be sure to follow Norpois’s response. . . . Luckily, the narrator later on still wants to write.


Words of the Day:

sesquipedalianism (p. 30) — given to using long words. Containing many syllables. The word is its definition. 😀

fustian (p. 47) — (as it is used on this page): inflated or turgid language in writing or speaking. Pompous or bombastic, as language.

orbiter dicta (p. 57) — (Latin) passing remark, opinion.

lavabo (p. 65) — a French word that means “wash basin” or “water closet.” The note in the Notes section on page 537 reads: “The OED does not confirm that it has ever been used in English in the modern sense of ‘lavatory’.”

hypogean (p. 66) — underground, subterranean

toque (p. 66) — (pronounced tohk) a brimless and close fitting hat for woman in any of several shapes. Compare with the Canadian “tuque” (pronounced “took” rhymes with “fluke”), which is a knitted hat, traditionally made of wool and worn in the winter. And now I’m thinking about Strange Brew. Take off to the great white north.

porte cochére (p. 70) — a covered carriage entrance leading to a courtyard.

per viam rectam (pp. 73, 78) — by a straight/direct road. “By the right way.” I think this term will become important.

cosa mentale (p. 74) — mental occupation. DaVinci said, “pittura è una cosa mentale,” which translated is  “painting is a mental occupation.”

Reuters news agency (p. 92) — I’m sure we all know what this is, but did you know it was founded in Great Britain in 1851, which is 43 years before this volume is published.


Happy Hour Food and Drinks

This is a list of foods and drinks I have encountered so far in In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, the second volume of In Search of Lost Time. I have noticed that foods and drinks occur in clumps, and there are more foods and drinks than in volume I, Swann’s Way.

beef in aspic (p. 17)

finest slabs of rump steak (p. 17)

the best shin of of beef and calf’s foot (p. 17)

a New York ham (p. 17)

York ham (p. 17)

ham (p. 17)

cheap wine (p. 23)

cold beef with carrots (p. 30)

aspic (p. 30, three times)

a dish of braised beef (p. 30)

carrots (p. 30)

beef Stroganoff (p. 30)

pineapple-and-truffle salad (p. 31)

Nesselrode pudding (p. 38). It’s “a Victorian ice-cream-style dessert packed full of chestnuts and fruit.” A recipe is here:

cold beef (p. 57)

soufflés (p. 57 and 58)

beef jelly (p. 58)

jellies (p. 58)

custard (p. 58)

beef (p. 58)

gravy (p. 58)

jelly (p. 58)

cream (p. 58)

marrons glacés (p. 58) — a confection of chestnuts candied in sugar and glazed. Candied chestnuts. Here’s a recipe:

marrons déguisés (p. 58) — (marrons in disguise) sweet chestnuts coated in dark chocolate. Soft bites. Here’s a recipe:

spice cake (p. 59)

appetizing chop (p. 69)

caffeine (p. 69): “the caffeine already prescribed as an aid to my breathing.”

beer (p. 69)

champagne (p. 69)

brandy (p. 69): “I should have a drink of beer, champagne, or brandy each time I feel an attack coming on.” Man, I love this Doctor Cottard’s prescriptions. 😀

milk (p. 71 four times, p. 72 four times)

meat (p. 71)

alcohol (p. 71)

clear soup (p. 72)

broth (p. 72)

olé! au lait! (p. 72) — a delicious pun. 😀

tea (pp. 77, 80 five times, 81 three times, 119

chocolate cake (p. 79)

cake(s) (pp. 80 two times, 81 two times)

chocolate (p. 80)

Ninevite cake-castle (p. 80) — I’m not sure what it is, but someone decided to invent what it is here:

scarlet fruit (p. 80)

toast (p. 81 two times)

eggs Béchamel (p. 100)

icy pink glaze (p. 100)

le pudding de Christmas (p. 101) — Christmas pudding

lobster à l’américaine (p. 112) — here’s a recipe:

orangeade (p. 113)



In Search of Lost Time 3-15-2022

Swann’s Way is the first volume of In Search of Lost Time. Swann’s Way has three parts: Combray (which has sections 1 and 2); Swann in Love; and Place-Names: The Name. I recently finished Swann in Love. It could be a stand alone novel at 203 pages in length. This section focuses on Swann thinking or convincing himself that he is falling in love with Odette, who sleeps around with men, women, and in orgies, who is not attractive or intelligent, who lacks class, but is very well dressed. Swann in Love ends: “he [Swann] exclaimed to himself: ‘To think that I wasted years of my life, that I wanted to die, that I felt my deepest love, for a woman who did not appeal to me, who was not my type!” It’s a sad realization to have, but it’s good to have. As Swann’s Way ends, I feel relieved for him because he is finally over his delusion, jealousy, and obsessiveness. Good for you, Swann.

The final part of Swann’s Way is Place-Names: The Name. This begins with the narrator writing about his nameless self again and his “nights of insomina” (399). It recalls the ten-page opening of the volume. When I read it, I think, “Oh, yeah. There was another story about the narrator.” At first, the transition does not make sense. It’s like the initial story was interrupted for 203 pages to learn about Swann and his idea of love and falling in love. Place-Names: The Name begins by exploring how the name of a thing is “absorbed forever [in] the image” (403) of the thing or place. It then briefly explores semiotics by showing connections between a word, a sound, and the imagination. And then I meet Gilberte, the daughter of M. Swann and his wife, Odette. Oh my. The reminder. Earlier in the volume, I knew this but forgot. Swann did not get over Odette. That’s even sadder than the end of Swann’s Way. Gilberte is also the girl whose name the narrator mispronounced when he met her in the Combray section and whose eyes he changed color via his imagination. And now this section begins to make sense. The narrator told us about Swann so a parallel could be seen with the narrator. The narrator has similar love delusions as Swann. The narrator, in fact, creates two Gilbertes. One is the Gilberte in the waking world, who does not love him just as Odette did not love Swann, and the other is the one in the narrator’s imagination. The one he created he expects to write him a letter when she is gone. The created one is not like the real one who is dismissive and who is mainly concerned with herself. I mean dig this scene:

On one of those sunny days that had not fulfilled my hopes, I did not have the courage to hide my disappointment from Gilberte.

“I had so many things to ask you,” I [the narrator] said to her. “I thought that today was going to mean such a lot to our friendship. And as soon as you get here, you have to leave again! Try to come early tomorrow, so I can finally talk to you.”

Her face shone and she was jumping with joy as she answered me:

“Tomorrow, you may depend upon it, my dear friend, I won’t be coming at all! I’ve got a big tea party; nor the day after tomorrow, either, I’m going to a friend’s house to watch the arrival of King Theodosius from her windows, it will be splendid, and then the day after we’re going to Michel Stogoff and then after that, Christmas will coming soon and the New Year’s holidays. Maybe they’ll take me to the Midi. How nice that would be! Though it will mean I won’t have a Christmas tree; anyway, if I stay in Paris, I won’t be coming here because I’ll be paying calls with Mama. Good-bye, there’s Papa, he’s calling me.” (424-5)

Whew. That’s devastating. Their relationship is clearly portrayed in this passage. He loves her, and she doesn’t really think much of him other than as a form of entertainment and as a person to play “prisoner’s base” with.

I thought, “Ok. He”ll learn from this and move on.” But no. He doesn’t learn. He imagines her writing him letters with remorse. He imagines a lot. He’ssimilar to Swann, and it’s sad. I hope he recovers. I have 15 more pages to read in Swann’s Way, and then I’ll be done with the volume. So I wait to see what happens. I may not find out until Thursday, because Wednesday is my 11-12 hour day of teaching, with a break towards the end where I can read or nap to rest up for my three-hour night course.


Exclamation Points:

As of page 429, I have encountered at least 67 exclamation points! That seems excessive, but Proust is excessive in describing and exploring except when it comes to food.


I was expecting there to be a lot of food and drink in this first volume of In Search of Lost Time, Swann’s Way. I circled every food and drink I encountered as I read. Below are the only food and drinks I noticed:

  • tea (p. 45). Without the tea, the following food may not have worked.
  • petites madeleines (p. 45). I like how this is the first food as it is the most important as it stimulates the narrator’s memory.
  • madeleine (p. 53)
  • chocolate custard (p. 73)
  • marzipan (p. 74)
  • tangerine (p. 74)
  • marzipan (p. 77)
  • tangerine (p. 77)
  • licorice water (p. 91)
  • vichy water (two times on p. 103)
  • vichy water (p. 109)
  • potatoes (p. 118)
  • béchamel sauce (p. 118)
  • mashed potatoes (p. 118)
  • casseroles (p. 123). I didn’t know they existed back then. I thought they were invented in the 1950s.
  • game (p. 123)
  • pastry (p. 123)
  • cream (p. 123)
  • peas (p. 123)
  • asparagus (p. 123)
  • vegetables (p. 123)
  • chickens (p. 124)
  • coffee (p. 124)
  • vichy water (p. 126)
  • orangeade (p. 220)
  • Japanese salad (p. 265). The narrator does not indicate what is in a Japanese salad, but it seem like a rare delicacy.
  • Japanese salad (p. 266)
  • orangeade (p. 310)
  • orangeade (p. 311)
  • fruit (p. 322)
  • orangeade (p. 391)
  • spice cake (p. 418). The translator’s note reads: The French pain d’éspices is define in dictionaries as “gingerbread.” But unlike gingerbread and our spice cake, it is a rather heavy and not very sweet breadlike cake made of rye flour, honey, sugar, and spices, including anise, and is mildly laxative. . . . Until the last parts, I was getting excited to make this on Tuesday bread-making day.
  • red barley sugar (p. 418)
  • plum (p. 418)

I still need some madeleines stat. I also want to try this recurring orangeade.

This list makes it seems like there is more food and drink than there is.


Words of the Day:

lorgnon (p. 330) — Eyeglasses with a handle. They were fashionable for the day. They are more for jewelry than for vision.

anfractuosity (p. 337) — Characterized by wingdings and turnings.

arcature (p. 337) — An arcade of small dimensions.

fabliau (p. 404) — The translator’s note reads: A short, usually comic, frankly coarse, and often cynical tale in verse popular in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

Prophet’s constipation (p. 418) — I’m not sure what this is, but it is a reference to something Jewish, and Swann who is Jewish is suffering from this ailment.


The Cave (Winner of The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award for 2013.)

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